Wellington - Former New Zealand fast bowler Chris Cairns' legal victory against former Indian Premier League head Lalit Modi should serve as a warning to social media users that the internet is
a powerful tool with far-reaching implications, media law specialists have said.
Cairns won his London High Court case Modi, who alleged in a 2010 tweet that Cairns was involved in match fixing. Cairns was awarded 90,000 pounds in damages.
Although other people have sued over tweets, they have all settled outside of court, with the Cairns case thought to be the first to appear before a judge.
Stuff.co.nz quoted media law specialists Ursula Cheer and Peter McKnight that Cairns' win would hopefully make people think more carefully before posting comments on a social media platform.
People needed to think about their words "and that when they can be published so easily online doesn't mean they don't do harm", Canterbury University law professor Ursula Cheer said.
Cheer added: ''People should have known that anyway. The point is if you're going to say anything and think you've got evidence then you need to be able to prove it beyond reasonable doubt.''
Modi's legal team had argued the allegation was true, but Mr. Justice Bean said he "singularly failed to provide any reliable evidence that Cairns was involved in match fixing or spot fixing or even that
there were strong grounds for suspicion he was".
As well as damages, Modi was ordered to pay Cairns' 400, 000 pound legal bill.
Modi has said he will appeal.
It was so expensive to pursue a case that it was more sensible to settle outside of court, Professor Cheer said.
Wellington lawyer Peter McKnight said New Zealanders did not have the security of having their legal fees paid by the opposition if they won.
It was common for the opposition to pay half or a third of the costs, whereas it was common in Britain for the other party to pay the full costs.
He warned damages could be far greater for defaming someone through Twitter or Facebook rather than via more traditional media ''because it extends the defamation all over the world''.